By Dave Moran
It has been a very exciting couple of months for New Zealand diving. We have witnessed history being made by a very dedicated group of people. We all need a dream, and for many divers the chance to see the wreck of the bullion ship Niagara is the ultimate dream. For Keith Gordon, a regular contributor to the magazine and managing director of SeaROV Ltd, and many of his era such as the late Kelly Tarlton, the Niagara was the big one. Keith has been working on his dream for a long time. He first dived the Niagara in June 1988 with his ROV (remote operated vehicle) and obtained some amazing video footage that was shown on national television. During the following years he continued upskilling his techniques and increasing the operational abilities of his ROV.
With a small, dedicated team during the last 12 months he has been working up to a joint dive on the Niagara with technical divers and his ROV. Training dives were held at the Poor Knights at depths of 80 metres and on the HMS Puriri, another first for divers at 98m â Keith had already explored her with his ROV in October 1991. Then on January 27, 1999, a calm weather window allowed his team to pull off New Zealandâs most historic shipwreck dive. Congratulations, Keith. For the full story turn to pages 26 to 28.
The other dream that has been fulfilled is the sinking of HMNZS Tui. Jeroen Jongejans had the dream and the Tutukaka Coast Promotions Society Inc committee, comprising Jeroen (project manager), Andy Britton (treasurer), Harry Fergusson (memorial manager), Malcolm Pullman (public relations manager), and Peter Vink (event manager), made the dream a reality on February 20 just north of the Tutukaka Harbour entrance. See our Tui feature on pages 40 to 41. New Zealand diving history was made on that day. I am confident that as the years pass, the businesses in Tutukaka and the New Zealand diving industry will see a positive financial reward from this ambitious project. I just love these dreamers who turn their dreams into reality. They have the passion and drive to jump the hurdles, maneuver through the paper war and keep their final objective in 20/20 focus. Those in the dive industry should put aside their own agendas and welcome these people with open arms â they are do-ers, not just talkers!
For many the Tui dream has just begun. She has already started her new role as landlady to many species off our Northland coast, becoming a living inheritance for the divers of the world. When you dive the Tui, check the weather conditions and the swell running at the time to ensure you have a safe and rewarding experience. If your training and diving experience levels are not sufficient for you and your buddy to penetrate the wreck, stay outside. You can have a heap of fun just exploring around the exterior of this fantastic wreck dive.
I was recently privileged to spend some time with a group of divers participating in nitrox and rebreather instructor courses. In this issue I interview Australian technical diver Kevin Denlay (see page 46). We discuss rebreathers and their possible impact on how we may be diving in the future. It sure is very exciting for those divers who are prepared to do the training and maintain the discipline required to venture into this exciting new era of sport diving. Next issue I talk to American rebreather guru Jeffrey Bozanic, the training director for Steam Machines Inc, manufacturers of the Prism Topaz rebreather.
Easterly, easterly, easterly. If I drove a Toyota I would say âbugger!â The good news is that once you arrive at your offshore dive site in the lee of an island you are virtually guaranteed fantastic visibility. The easterlies have pushed the deep blue ocean current close to our coast. Recently the Poor Knights has delivered 30 metres plus visibility and 20 metres closer to shore on the Tui. Make sure you get out there and enjoy it!
- Dave Moran